Berkhamsted conceded another late equaliser to draw 1-1 with FC Broxbourne Boro at Broadwater on Saturday.
The Comrades looked to be holding on for all three points thanks to Bradley O’Donovan’s goal, but were denied by Ryan Wade’s 30-yard strike in the final 10 minutes.
The result was a fair reflection of a cagey match that saw both sides fail to convert a host of chances.
Both teams started well from the kick-off, with the home side looking lively and popping the ball around nicely, while Broxbourne were a constant threat with their pace and tricky wing play helping them to get into some good positions.
Matt Thomson carved out the best of the away team’s early chances as he failed to connect with Bradley Harrison’s inviting ball into the box.
Berkhamsted always looked threatening going forward, with Nick Jackson orchestrating play from the midfield and both full-backs unafraid to make the occasional foray into the opposition penalty area.
Comrades right-back Dan Edwards typified his usual swashbuckling style with a powerful shot from the right hand side that forced Emmanuez Olanide into a smart save.
Despite being light on goals, the first half was not short of incident. A bad challenge by Thomson on Jackson saw the Berkhamsted midfielder require extended treatment and the resulting war of words in the dugout added further heat to the confrontation.
Tensions were running high as both sides continued to niggle at each other and it eventually all boiled over after Frank Jowle took exception to another bad Thomson tackle, this time on Max Farrelly, and the resulting skirmish saw players from both sides come together.
The ensuing pushing and shoving ended up with two players booked from both teams, although perhaps the Broxbourne captain and one Comrade can count themselves lucky to have remained on the pitch.
The second half began as breathlessly as the first had ended, with Berkhamsted creating some good early chances; none better than when Jackson was played into space by O’Donovan who, rather than electing to shoot, took one touch too many and was crowded out by a packed Broxbourne defence.
Boro were an ever-present threat on the counter and they nearly found themselves in front when Adam Murad almost bundled the ball home from a corner.
It was Berkhamsted who struck first however, with a well-worked goal that also benefitted from some lax defending.
Jermaine Mitchell, on as a second half substitute, pinged in a delightful cross to Josh Chamberlain who collected the ball on the left hand side.
Broxbourne defenders appealed in vain for offside and, as they waited for the whistle, Chamberlain found Bradley O’Donovan in space and the striker had time to poke the ball home from close range.
The home side were good value for their lead and enjoyed the best of the play in the second half, although all that counted for little when Wade received the ball on the edge of the penalty area. He took a touch, looked up and hit a fierce bending shot that had Carl Tasker well beaten.
There then followed a frantic final 10 minutes as both sides searched for a winner.
Broxbourne came close when Harrison flashed a shot just wide of the post and the opposing side were very nearly put through again minutes later by some very lazy Berkhamsted defending.
It was the home side that went closest to snatching a winner when O’Donovan sprung the offside trap on the counter only to see his shot saved well by Olanide.
It was the final chance of an enthralling yet tetchy draw, although the stalemate does little for either team’s early season standings. Both sides will look to get back to winning ways in Tuesday’s Challenge Trophy ties.
Berko: 1 Tasker; 2 Edwards, 3 Weeks, 4 Baldry, 5 Hawes, 6 Farrelly, 7 Jowle (15 Mead), 8 Carbery (12 Mitchell), 9 O’Donovan, 10 Chamberlain, 11 Jackson. Subs not used: 14 Caines & 16 Mannion.
Berko will still be without key defenders Lewis Rodrigoe and Ed Canham for Tuesday’s home Challenge Trophy tie with Aylesbury United’s Division 2 side and Saturday’s away league game at Oxhey Jets.
However the forward line injuries are subsiding, with Adiel Mannion and Jay Caines now ready to play and hopes that Jude Eboji and Aaron Nash-Barker can return soon.
Berko’s Suburban League North side will be looking to get their first league win of the season on Saturday when they entertain Aylesbury Reserves.